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let’s get this party started

Recipe: lavender lemonade

I want to thank those of you who shared your pet stories for the giveaway. Since Kaweah is in her golden years, the comments about the senior doggies and kitties were particularly touching for me as were the stories of how our pets comfort us when we are grieving or very ill. So thank you for that, all of you. We try to make the selection of winners as impartial and as random as possible by letting Kaweah choose. Retirees though… they aren’t always in the mood to get back to their old jobs.

stretching out in the sun

aw yeah…

We tried again later when storm clouds blocked out the sun and Kaweah had gotten a sufficient amount of beauty rest. I lined up ten treats – each representing a number from 0 to 9 – and recorded the number of the first treat Kaweah went for. Then I replaced the eaten treat(s) (sometimes she ate two before I could get to her) and we repeated this nine times for a total of ten digits (5 winners).

that’s a four

The winners are #35: Ira (Boxers N Birds All Breed Animal Rescue Inc. in Oceanside, CA), #46: Jane, #52: Courtney (Boulder Humane Society), #65: Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary, and #80: Pat! Congratulations to the winners – you should be receiving an email from me shortly. Thank you all for listing so many wonderful animal shelters and rescue organizations who care for those animals in need of a home and someone to love.

sunset reflected off our house

love those summer storms

We are entering that thunderstorm cycle in the mountains now. Overnight temperatures are nowhere close to freezing anymore and nighttime is whittled down to a few hours at best. Le sigh. Oh, but you know what’s coming, don’t you? Summer things like blockbuster movies, a new tube of sunblock, eating outside, grilling, parties, hiking, and kicking back with an ice-cold drink. I had lunch at a soft opening for Native Foods in Boulder a couple of weeks ago. My friend, Michael (@BSidesNarrative on Twitter), told me the lavender lemonade at Native Foods was the best. So I tried it. I liked it! And you know where this is going. I know how to make lemonade…



Most people think of lavender as an odor, not a flavor. It’s widely used in de-stinking or perfuming the heck out of something, someplace, or someone. This is not that lavender. It *is* lavender – the herb – but it is culinary lavender which means it is okay to consume. Mine is organic and you can find it at places like Savory Spice Shop or the Whole Foods bulk spice section.

pretty purple

a few tablespoons

My real motivation for making lavender lemonade was to see if it would turn pink. I’ve seen some that are yellow (like lemonade) and others that are pink. It’s supposed to turn pink, although a quick search hasn’t given me any explanation as to why. Any chemists out there wanna throw me a bone? I started with a half batch just in case it turned out to be a dud (not pink). [Edit: Thanks to a reader, she determined that the hidcote variety of lavender turns lemonade pink, but not any other varieties.]

pour boiling water over the lavender

let steep for 15 minutes (it’s a deep rose color)

Well, this was promising. It was a sort of rose color. After straining the lavender bits out of the liquid (discard the bits), I put it back in a saucepan and added the sugar. Liquids cool quickly at my elevation (water boils at a lower temperature too), so I reheated the liquid while stirring the sugar until it dissolved. I normally use organic cane sugar, which makes an almost amber-colored simple syrup, but I keep “white” sugar around for certain candies and pastries that require preservation of color. I figured lavender lemonade justified some of that white sugar.


add the sugar

I let the sweet lavender liquid cool a little bit, but added the lemon juice while it was still considerably warm. IT TURNED PINK! On contact! Look at the pictures, I am not joshing you.

starting to pour the lemon juice

you can see where the lemon juice has come into contact with the lavender tea

bright pink!


So it did, in fact, turn pink. Yay! But in addition to home kitchen chemistry fun, you get a floral and refreshing beverage with which to cool down over the summer. Be sure to add water to taste keeping in mind that you’re probably going to serve it over ice (so don’t dilute the heck out of it). You could also keep it fairly concentrated and serve it with fizzy water over ice for a little lavender lemon soda action. Your call. But do the chem lab experiment for fun!

better living through chemistry

Lavender Lemonade
[print recipe]
inspired by Native Foods

4 tbsps (1/4 cup) culinary lavender*
2 cups boiling water
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice (about 8 lemons)
2 cups cold water

* Culinary lavender is lavender harvested for the purposes of cooking/eating. Please don’t buy the perfumed air-freshening kind because that is going to be utterly gross. If you want your lemonade to turn pink, you need to get the hidcote variety (that’s the only one that turns it pink).

Steep the lavender in 2 cups of boiling water for 15 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the lavender. Place the lavender tea and the sugar in a small saucepan and set over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves (you don’t have to put it over heat, but I do this because I’m impatient and want the sugar to dissolve faster and completely). Remove from heat and let cool to warm. Stir in the lemon juice. Stir in the cold water. Add more to taste. I prefer to keep mine on the concentrated side because I like to mix it with seltzer water when I serve it. Serve over ice. Makes about 6-8 cups depending on how dilute you want it.

42 nibbles at “let’s get this party started”

  1. sweetmaddy says:

    Beautiful! That would be so cute for girly things like wedding showers, tea parties, etc. :)

  2. Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary says:

    Made my day (and Moose’s too) Thanks!

  3. Susanne says:

    Lovely! I can’t wait to make this.
    Once again, I have Kaweah-envy. What a beautiful dog – your loving photographer’s eye captures her essence and makes the rest of us fall in love with her…

  4. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    This sounds so tasty! I love that you used lavender – what an awesome idea!

  5. Susan says:

    Ooh, I just went to a wedding at Los Poblanos in ABQ and they had lavender margaritas. Delicious! But they weren’t pink.

  6. Kelly says:

    Wow!!! That is gorgeous! I wonder if I can find culinary lavender here… been wanting to use it for a while now.

  7. Erin says:

    Such a great use for lavender. It’s a real hit at baby showers and teas. ;)

  8. Margie says:

    Congratulations to your winners, Jenzie!

    I am growing lavender, but since I normally overwater it, I don’t get the blooms. I will, however, pick up some from Central Market; my youngest daughter is a lavender fiend and I know she will thoroughly enjoy this ‘pink’ lemonade.

  9. Allison says:

    That looks wonderful!

    I bet lavender has the same compounds that make red cabbage pH sensitive, and that amazing color is a result of the acidity of the lemon juice.

  10. Barbara | Creative Culinary says:

    I love the combination of lavender and lemon; as long as the lavender is used with a gentle hand. I make a lavender lemonade martini…what you did basically with a bit of vodka! I’ve also used it in shortbread, another subtle but wonderful way to use it in a culinary fashion. I grow half a dozen lavender bushes now; enough for my garden, my cooking and some to send to friends.

    I have a senior dog too; Abbie is 14 and a half and sure, she naps a lot but still chasing squirrels too. My heart is warmed by the work people do to help animals; the love I have for my dog makes me sad at how many are treated badly yet also so happy to know there are people who care enough to try and change that. My daughter adopted a dog who had been abused; as a matter of fact they were more inclined to put her down but Lauren BEGGED. She has stayed with me a lot over the past three years and it’s been a joy to see that scared and yes, snappy, dog change. What’s love got to do with it? Everything.

  11. marla says:

    Give that pup a BIG squeeze for me!! Lovely sips ~ the lavender is a treat :)

  12. steph says:

    what a lovely recipe! my guess for the color change would be a pigment that reacts to changes in pH. more acidic means more red/ pink, and more basic (such as baking soda) would probably lead to more blue/ purple. if this is the case, the same happens with red cabbage juice.

  13. Russell at Chasing Delicious says:

    This lemonade sounds delightful!

  14. myfudo says:

    Brilliant pictures! I am refreshed by this recipe…Ready for summer!!!

  15. Jill says:

    I don’t know how I missed this post on my daily email, but am sure glad I retrieved it on my FB!
    What a beautiful Judge and Official Chooser, Kaweah is!
    Congrats to the winners.
    xo, j

  16. jinkzz says:

    Pretty…i’ve been wanting to make a lavender lemonade but WholeFoods in Fairfax and Third (LA) didn’t have any lavender

  17. Katie says:

    Wow, that lemonade is so pretty! What a clever (and tasty!) way to make pink lemonade. I wonder if I could use some of the lavender growing behind my apartment building? I’m going to give it a go!

  18. andrew says:

    its like a titration in chemistry. you are adding an acid to a base that causes a chemical reaction. the reaction is complete when the color changes. what the compounds are in the lavender that are acting as a base i dont know.

  19. thyme (sarah) says:

    What a great looking drink and I would love to try that flavor of lavender inside. How cute to have your dog pick out the numbers. I didn’t understand at first what he was doing and then I burst out laughing when I realized!!

  20. Joy says:

    That is just beautiful

  21. GG from Quieting Life says:

    Wow. Now THAT’s cool. (And beautiful!) My lavender is just starting to bloom, so I’ll be looking for uses; must give this a try.

    I’ve also been thinking about adding lavender to one of the beers I make. Just a tiny bit, maybe 1 oz. to a 5-gallon carboy – like dry-hopping, with a different aroma. I have 2 light, French summer beers working right now, and I think lavender would be a fine addition to either of them.

  22. Barbara says:

    Such a pretty colour Jen. I have had lavendar candies and found the too florally. Also found the same with rose petal jam. Maybe my taste buds aren’t attuned to floral flavours.

  23. na says:

    I ordered some lavender as soon as I saw your post. I couldn’t resist that color. And then I started researching lavender recipes, since I ordered a pound(!!!) of it. I then came to know that not all lavender lemonades are going to turn pink. Sigh. Only the hidcote variety turns lemonades pink. Double sigh. I hope my variety is hidcote :-)
    This is what happens when one jumps the gun :-)

  24. Sarah says:

    I love the naturally pink color! Sounds refreshing.

  25. Celia Lindsell says:

    I have been designing French Lavender Accessories for years so am a great fan of Lavender. I adore the idea of your lavender lemonade. I am going to try and make it for sure.

  26. jenyu says:

    sweetmaddy – yep, I just love the color (and that it’s natural!)

    Lisa – congratulations!

    Susanne – thank you.

    Katrina – it smells fantastic too!

    Susan – yeah, apparently it depends on the type of lavender you use?

    Kelly – I’m sure you could google and find a place to order online if you can’t source it locally.

    Erin – yes, and pretty!

    Margie – hope she likes it!

    Allison – yes, that’s probably it, but I’m wondering what distinguishes that lavender from others that don’t turn pink?

    Barbara – I can see where the lavender can be too strong, but I seem to like it!

    Marla – thanks, hon!

    steph – yes, my main question was why it happens with some lavender and not with others?

    Russel – thanks!

    myfudo – :)

    Jill – ha ha, thank you!

    jinkzz – try ordering some online?

    Katie – just make sure the lavender isn’t sprayed with chemicals and other such things.

    andrew – yeah, that’s what I want to know.

    thyme – :)

    Joy – thanks!

    GG – that would be interesting! I’m not a beer drinker, so I doubt I’d appreciate it properly, but it still sounds cool.

    Barbara – I didn’t like floral things when I was a kid, but in the last ten years they’ve really grown on me :)

    na – aaaaaah!!!! Thank you for that! The hidcote variety must be what I have! I’ll note that in the post!! Thanks xo

    Sarah – me too!!

    Celia – hope you enjoy it!

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  28. na says:

    I used the non-hidcote variety(whichever one it is) and it turned the lemonade into a pretty orange color :-). OK, not so pretty-pretty, but cute enough.

  29. Morag says:

    I’ve made this twice in the last week because it’s so delicious I can’t stop drinking it. Thank you!

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  31. Macarena says:

    love it! i absolutely HAVE to try it. already pin it.

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  33. Alisette says:

    I’m not quite a chemist, but I have an idea. If the Lavender blosoms get their color from anthocyanes, they would be pH-indicative. There’s an experiment one can do with red cabbage juice that basically works the same way.
    If it is that, adding acidic anything (like the lemon juice!) would turn the lavender tea bright pink or red. on this theory, if you added something alkalic, it should turn blueish.
    So yeah, that’s my working theory as a biologist, hope this helps you^^

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  38. Carrie says:

    hi I’m really interested in making this recipe but having trouble finding the hidcote lavender that is not a plant or seed . Tried every version even Latin species name if flower just want buy what she recommended to turn lemonade pink. Any help would be great want the herb ready to go and use.

  39. jenyu says:

    Carrie – try ordering online (or ask Savory Spice Shop if they carry it and order online).

  40. Roxan Walden says:

    Hello, and thank you so much for this recipe. I’m so excited to try it. I’m all into cooking with lavender right now. You mentioned using the hidcote variety. Do you have a source for it? I can find culinary lavenders, but not specifically this variety. Your guidance would be greatly appreciated.

  41. jenyu says:

    Roxan – I got mine from savory spice shop (they have it online here:, but I didn’t know the variety until after I had used it. I don’t think any of the places I can get lavender actually say what kind it is. Maybe try a small test batch of the lavender tea to see if the kind you use turns that gorgeous color? Good luck!

  42. R.C. says:

    Just made this on a very hot Memorial Day afternoon, and it turned out great! Substituted 1/2 cup of blue agave for the white sugar, and added the peel of one lemon into the lavender steeping step. I’ve found that adds a subtle zing to the lemon juice flavor! Nothing like zest for a hot day. Anyways, awesome recipe! Thanks very much!

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